Healthy Food-Based Diet Best Way to Power Your Workout
It is a common sight in weight rooms and gyms: Blender bottles filled not with water, but a shake or other supplement marketed to help the athlete achieve his or her goals. Unfortunately for nearly all of the students I work with, those shakes, drink mixes or special vitamins are not going to make a difference in their athletic performance. The best way to fuel your body is through eating a balanced diet of healthy foods.
Protein shakes contain a lot of protein – more than what a body typically needs (if you’re an ultra-marathoner, Ironman athlete or Olympian, protein supplements may be appropriate). This extra protein puts added stress on the kidneys and other organs.
What can high school athletes and avid runners and cyclists eat or drink to improve their athletic performance? There is no one answer, but rather a measured approach is best. Here are some foods and beverages to fuel your workouts and games:
Water: Most people do not drink enough water. Try to not only drink the eight recommended glasses of water a day, but make sure you are drinking before, during and after your workout or game. Skip sports drinks unless you are exercising outside on a hot day and you need to replenish your body’s electrolytes.
Lean protein: Protein helps build muscle. The best sources include chicken, fish, lean meats, nuts, beans and eggs.
Whole-grain carbs: Athletes need carbs for fuel. Your body takes carbohydrates and changes them into glucose, a form of sugar, that is stored in your muscles. When you exercise, your body changes that stored sugar into energy.
Healthy fats: When your body’s carb stores run low during longer workouts, the body begins turning fat into the energy you need. A regular healthy diet that includes nuts, vegetable oils and fatty fish provide your body with the fats it needs.
Chocolate milk: For athletes looking for a great post-workout or game snack, chocolate milk is a great option. It can quickly help restore muscles and replenish nutrients lost while sweating. These are the same electrolytes found in sports drinks, but are found naturally in chocolate milk. Drinking chocolate milk will also help rehydrate your body.
When you eat a balanced diet, you do not need extra shakes or supplements to provide your body with the nutrition it needs to fuel your workouts. You can learn more about what should be part of a healthy diet and appropriate portions by going to www.choosemyplate.gov.
Gary Premo of ThedaCare Orthopedic Care is the licensed athletic trainer at Weyauwega-Fremont High School.